I'll bet you've got a bunch of junk in your Airstream or RV.
I don't mean that to be an insult. It's just a fact that almost everyone leaves "stuff" in their travel trailer or motorhome that never or rarely gets used. It just takes up valuable storage space, adds unnecessary weight, and makes it hard to find what you're looking for.
Winter and early spring are my favorite times to dig into all the nooks and storage compartments of our Airstream, in preparation for the upcoming season of travel. Every year I think "Oh, there's nothing much in there," and then I'm shocked (and often mortified) to find what useless junk we've been hauling around.
So my top recommendations for every RV owner this time of year are:
1. Do an annual purge
The key to success here is to methodically open up every place that stuff might be stored, and completely empty it out. Don't just rifle through—take it all out. It's a lot easier to see what you have if you spread it out on a table and look at each item individually.
Do this with every drawer, cabinet, outside compartment, overhead bin, underbed storage, etc. Don't forget odd spots like an under-bed access hatch for the water heater. I've found tools and spare parts in places where I was sure that I hadn't left anything. And if your sewer hose is getting a bit long in the tooth, now is the time to replace it before it fails.
Use this screening criteria on everything you find:
- When was the last time I used this?
- Do I really need it?
- If it is bulky or heavy, can I live without it?
Many times I have seen Airstreamers hauling saws, tool chests, vacuum cleaners, wood scraps, and even concrete blocks that they really didn't need.
Those are the low-hanging fruit, but don't overlook the many little things that add up to clutter as well. I'm talking about unnecessary kitchen tools, dead flashlights, expired batteries, souvenirs from past trips, and all those little things you accumulated last season but don't really need to keep hauling around.
I'm also talking about all the stuff that you thought you'd use, or used a few times and then forgot about, like weenie forks, books, DVDs, games, hammock, twinkle lights, picnic table covers, etc.
2. Inspect each piece of gear and equipment – replace, upgrade, or refill as needed
Here's my screening criteria:
- Is it getting worn or old?
- Does it need to be replaced or upgraded?
- Is it nearly empty?
This is an opportunity to top up whatever you use that's consumable, like lubricants, cleaners, and gloves. If the container is nearly empty, consider getting a fresh one (or refilling) so you're ready for a full season without having to think about it again.
It's also an opportunity to upgrade from "RV industry standard" items that are failing.
For example, we recently had a customer tell us that the cheap plastic fittings on their drinking water hose were cracked and leaking. They upgraded to our far superior RV Water Hose so they wouldn't have to deal with that problem ever again.
Don't let anything that was troublesome last season be a problem for you again. Here are other things to consider upgrading, if you bought cheapo versions originally:
- A rivet tool that jams frequently or is hard to use. The best, smoothest-operating rivet tool we've ever found is included in our Rivet Replacement Kit.
- That low-end torque wrench you bought a few years ago. It may not be accurate. There's a better one in our Tire Changing Kit.
- A surge protector. Surge protectors don't offer anywhere near the protection of a quality, "smart" Electrical Management System.
- A water filter. If you used it last year, it's due for replacement. Throw out that filter and consider upgrading to a really good 3-stage filtration system that does a lot more than just improve the taste.
3. Review and purchase those things you've been "meaning to buy" but just haven't
Many times we get emails and reviews from customers saying "I've been meaning to get this for a long time, and now that I have it, I don't know why I waited so long!"
Usually they're talking about a really nice upgrade, like a teak shower mat. The other popular "splurge" items are:
- Sun Shade: This makes your outdoor patio much nicer on hot day and when the sun angle is right in your eyes.
- Portable Solar Kit: If you ever camp away from a power hookup, this is the most flexible and cost-effective complete solar system you'll find.
- Micro-Air digital thermostat: Superior to the original equipment thermostat in so many ways! It's easier to use, can be monitored remotely, and it's great for pet owners.
- CGear Patio Mat: These are the only patio mats we sell, because of their unique "sand free" design.
4. Review and update your travel checklists
January is the time we review and update our checklists, because we're usually planning out our Airstream trips for the year. This week, in fact, we nailed down our route and activities before and after the October ACI International Rally.
An annual review of every checklist is good practice–especially if you've added new equipment or upgrades. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned RV traveler, using checklists is a simple way to make sure you get on the road safely and don't forget anything important.
If you're looking for more details about the types of checklists to create for your travels, check out this blog.